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As 2021 starts, the media continues to carry horrific stories of ongoing environmental abuse. We can no longer deny that the climate crisis is real, but somehow we manage to do just that. ‘Extinction: The Facts’ is a BBC Earth documentary, in which Sir David Attenborough explores how the loss of biodiversity has consequences for us all. He mentions the impact of global warming and the resulting climate crisis that has led to a loss or change of three-quarters of the world’s terrestrial surface. Sadly, the cause is human greed, our purchasing habits are killing off our natural resources.

There is so much we can do to help prevent further destruction. Mangrove ecosystem rehabilitation is something we feel can have an enormous impact on the environment and the people who depend on the health of the sea. Not only does this kind of forest store more carbon than normal forests, but it also protects a marine habitat that is vital to the oceans and the communities who live off the sea. The carbon in a mangrove forest is also called ‘blue carbon’.

The main challenge faced by mangrove ecosystems is that they are dwindling, this is a result of their destruction due to land development and community fish breeding ponds where the natural rhythms of nature are not respected. Population growth, especially in coastal areas, has resulted in changes in land use and excessive utilization of natural resources, thus mangrove forests have quickly diminished or have been severely damaged.

Rimba Raya Biodiversity Reserve, Tanjung Puting National Park and Seruyan District Government are in collaboration with the community in replanting 30,000 mangrove seedlings (Rhyzophora sp) in Tanjung Siamuk Beach, Sungai Undang Village, Seruyan District. The planting ceremony was held on Tuesday, February 16, 2021.

Sungai Undang village was chosen because 80% of the people are fishermen as well as fishpond farmers.

The problem with fishponds has become critical in that it has led to mangrove forest destruction,” said Budi Suriansyah, Head of Management Section II of Tanjung Puting National Park who was directly involved in our mangrove recovery initiative.

The process of restoring mangrove ecosystems by involving the community has become especially important, it gives us an opportunity to build awareness of the value in maintaining the balance of the natural environment. Gerakan Masyarakat Bersatu, the local community group of Sungai Undang Village, was formed to create mangrove nurseries and conduct the necessary planting and monitoring. It is important that this type of initiative is managed in a sustainable way as this will ensure its success.

Community involvement starts from designing, implementing, evaluating, and finding solutions. It is hoped that this process will increase the confidence and responsibility of community members and show that together we should be able to overcome some of the most important environmental problems,” Murlan Dameria Pane, Head of Tanjung Puting National Park said.

Chairman of Gerakan Masyarakat Bersatu Sungai Undang Village, Agung Yulianto at the planting site stated, “Some people still look at this planting activity solely as a means of income, however a side effect of this initiative is that it is helping to develop a sense of ownership and a desire to preserve the biodiversity in our homeland.

The Seruyan mangrove forest area is located in Seruyan Hilir and Seruyan Hilir Timur sub-districts, which is just South of the working area of Rimba Raya Biodiversity Reserve and Tanjung Puting National Park. The loss of mangrove forest density in the Seruyan has become the main concern for all parties who have collaborated in this program, because if left alone, the result will be devastating. Not to mention that the loss of this rich ecosystem means a loss in the natural resources that support livelihoods of community people.
This replanting effort is expected to have a broad ecological impact on the environment and on the economic status of the surrounding communities.

Now there is a special group that restores the beach with mangrove planting activities that help in preventing abrasion,” said The Head of Sungai Undang Village Eka Puspita Sari proudly.

In addition, this activity also provides opportunities to increase revenue from the construction of permeable dams, collecting seeds, filling polybags, nurseries, planting, monitoring and maintenance.

Community women are also able to generate an income by making “bronjong“, large natural cages that protect the planted seedlings.

Bronjongs are made of split bamboo, 30 cm in diameter and 60-70cm high. The bamboo is bound together to form baskets which are filled with silt and the young seedlings are planted inside. The plants attach themselves firmly in the baskets which help them withstand the crashing waves. Using this method means that the seedlings are also not easily uprooted and have a greater chance of survival.

Small but important, activities such as planting trees around the house or through tree adoption programs, are small steps that can have a large impact on the sustainability of life. The mangrove planting program in Seruyan, is expected to be one of the most impactful contributions we can make in mitigating the climate crisis,” said Rimba Raya Executive Director Sylviana (Sylvi) Andhella.

The pace of climate change can be slowed by continuing to collaborate with all parties in designing sustainable-environmentally friendly-programs.

The challenges of replanting during this pandemic can be overcome by strictly following the arranged schedule, ensuring that tasks are evenly distributed and also by complying with the health protocols suggested by the government. The restrictions did not dampen the spirit of all teams involved in our mangrove ecosystem restoration efforts in Seruyan District, Central Kalimantan.
Head of the Environment Office of Seruyan Regency, Priyo Widagdo representing Head of Seruyan District said, “Seruyan District supports and really appreciates this restoration activity as mangrove ecosystems, especially on the Seruyan coastal area, are at a severe and critical stage. The mandate from Head of Seruyan District in restoring mangroves, is that it will not go well without the support and participation of the community and the institutions that must care about mangrove restoration. We must succeed in this activity and hope we will improve it in the future.

The coverage of the mangrove planting activities can be seen on the Infinite Earth YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rV8jmvGrV6M

Editor’s Note:
Rimba Raya Biodiversity Reserve develops livelihood programs in surrounding villages (addressing all 17 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals) to provide education, employment and hope for the future. The project is also the world’s largest privately funded orangutan sanctuary and is an Ecosystem Restoration project aimed at restoring and maintaining peat swamp forest ecosystems that are important habitats for orangutans and other IUCN Red Listed endangered wildlife. The project acts as the main buffer zone along the Tanjung Puting National Park in Seruyan District and follows ecological, economic, and social management principles. Visit https://rimba-raya.com

The Rimba Raya Biodiversity Reserve, an InfiniteEARTH Project, is one of the largest REDD+ projects in the world, protecting nearly 65,000 hectares of peat swamp forest in Central Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo and avoiding more than 130 million tons of carbon emissions. It is a living example of an economically viable alternative to deforestation. Visit https://infinite-earth.com

Rimba Raya Conservation as the field implementer, empowers the community to be involved in maintaining and preserving peat swamp forest ecosystems with the following approach: Empowered Communities, Healthy Forests, Maintained Climate, and supporting the achievement of the SDG targets in the assisted villages of the Rimba Raya Biodiversity Reserve.

Rimba Raya Duty
“By protecting forests, we take care of all the life that is in them and contribute to the balance of the global climate. We empower the community to be involved in maintaining peat swamp forests. Together we love the earth enough to prevent further destruction.” Djonni Andhella, President Director of PT. Rimba Raya Conservation.